The history of the Dodwell Trust
First 10 years
I set up The Dodwell Trust because my future husband said he would not marry me unless I also loved Madagascar! He was Honorary Consul for Madagascar in London, and though an Englishman, he represented all their diplomatic and consular interests in UK. So I created the Dodwell Trust and looked for a project which other people would not take on. My philosophy is to encourage others to do what they can, while I try to do what they cannot.
Through the Dodwell Trust, I set up Madagascar’s first national radio drama serial, heading a team of Malagasy script writers, actors and technicians to produce and broadcast our drama serial on National Radio and 50 local radio stations. The purpose was to spread advice about family health, education, environment and poverty issues. The radio series ran for 3 years and won the hearts of 10 million faithful listeners.
We produced and broadcast many radio series in Madagascar over the first 10 years of The Dodwell Trust. As pioneers we set up over 2000 radio listener groups all over the country, using donated wind-up radios for audience feedback. The project was a great tool for collaboration; the results far exceeded our expectations.
Second 10 years
Having trained the national and local radio stations to be more effective, we left radio and began an initiative in environment and education, using British volunteers to carry out scientific projects with flora and fauna, and help teach English in the state schools. Among personal projects, I couldn’t resist exploring the Ampefy region on horseback with a view to introducing a new form of tourism since the area is little known but very beautiful. This initiative produced a series of horse trails, now organised for international tourism by www.unicorntrails.com
Wanting to become part of a local community, the Dodwell Trust built a primary school and Learning Centre in Ampefy town, in the geographical heart of Madagascar. It sits on the shore of a lake amongst old volcano cones. Despite meagre resources, we have 5 teachers and 100 pupils who are from the poorest families. Some children walk 2 hours or more to come to school. Last year all the pupils in the T5 class passed the state exam and one pupil achieved the second-highest marks in the region. But there is still much to be done.